Interview: ‘Batman: Arkham City’ Writer, Paul Dini, Discusses The Game’s Progress, Cut Moments From ‘Arkham Asylum’

We all knew it was coming. The sequel to the best game of 2009, “Batman: Arkham Asylum.” Earlier today, Game Informer revealed the title of the much-anticipated follow-up, “Batman: Arkham City.” Paul Dini, who was the lead writer on the first game, is back again for the sequel, and spoke with MTV about how the game’s progressing (in addition to his work on the “Ultimate Spider-man” animated series). He also mentioned some of the elements that got cut from the original “Arkham,” but may see new life in “Arkham City.”

Planned for release in 2011, “Batman: Arkham City” is likely Warner Bros.’ biggest game of the year. With such a high-profile title, a holiday release is likely, which gives the team at Rocksteady a solid year of development time. Dini mentioned that work on “Arkham City” started right after “Arkham Asylum” was finished. “Everyone really loved it and it sold really well and it would be a mistake not to.” That means the game will about have two years of development time under its belt when it finally releases.

Having a year remaining is not as much time as it seems, especially when so much needs to be finalized early on. For example, Dini is going to be working with the voice cast of the game this week, which means much of the dialog and major story elements have been locked down. “We’re well on our way through production,” said Dini. “We’re doing recordings all this week here in Los Angeles. I actually have to go over to some of the recordings later this week. It’s all sounding great and it’s looking terrific.”

Unfortunately, Dini was unwilling to give us any details about the story or which characters will be appearing (even though we’ve made plenty of educated guesses, and Catwoman is prominently displayed on the Game Informer cover).

He did say, though, that if you’re looking for hints at the “Arkham City” story, play through the original game again.

“The more we got into developing the first game, we were like, ’Hey, let’s do this. Let’s put in this clue for the second one.’ At that point we were pretty sure we were doing a sequel at some point.”

Dini also spoke about some of the elements that had to be cut from that first game, due to time and budget…elements that could possibly show up in “Arkham City.” “There were some ideas we had for the exteriors,” explained Dini. “Some fights we would have outside [the asylum] and perhaps a little more Batmobile action.”

It sounds like there was a desire to expand the scope of the map of “Arkham Asylum,” but certain limitations (it taking place on an island, for example) made that infeasible. For “Arkham City,” though, there’s a lot more freedom, now that the action has moved into the streets of Gotham City (as evidenced by the first teaser trailer).

For the time being, Dini is definitely keeping his cards close to his vest on anything “Arkham City”-related. Stay tuned, though, as we’ll be hearing a lot more about the game when Game Informer drops later this month.